Marquette Provost Touts “Critical Thinking,” Then Repeats Politically Correct Clichés
Myers claims to be making a plea for “critical thinking,” but in fact simply demands that people not critically examine politically correct shibboleths. He focusses on the notion of “institutional racism,” a notion that Shapiro challenged.
There is a lot to address there, but let’s focus on three critical questions before we express agreement. First, has the institutionalized racism of yesteryear really disappeared? Take one instance in our own world of higher education. It is widely accepted that back in the bad ol’ days, universities had racist recruitment and admissions practices that severely disadvantaged African Americans. That disadvantage is gone in our new enlightened era, Shapiro says.Does Marquette target legacy students? If so, Dan Myers, you are the Provost, why don’t you stop it?
But is it? Consider this: Almost all universities have long had recruitment and admissions practices that target legacy students (the children and relatives of its alumni). If the parents or grandparents were admitted using a racist standard, then doesn’t the legacy advantage replicate that racism in the next generation? Haven’t these legacy practices built racism into the access to higher education? Maybe it’s possible that racial advantages still exist more than we think.
But of course, targeting legacy students is not racial discrimination, even if it has a differential racial impact. Universities target good athletes too, and (at least in “revenue sports”) this benefits blacks. But that’s not racial discrimination either.
Then there is the huge advantage racial minorities have with affirmative action. It typically is (as Shapiro reported) in the range of 250 SAT points (Verbal plus Quantative).
School ChoirMyers then offers an example of a bad person: a choir director who systematically excluded black students from a highly desirable program.
Myers seems not to understand that this simply isn’t “institutional racism.” There was nothing about the “institution” of the choir that discriminated against blacks, but rather one bad person who did.
And Myers admits he is now dead. So much for this as any sort of example of contemporary racism, institutional or otherwise.
Individual AgencyMyers continues:
By denying institutional racism, Shapiro can boil racial differences down to individual agency: if Black people just tried harder and made better choices, they’d do just as well as Whites. Simply finish high school, avoid early pregnancy and get a job. If you do, you’ll be OK. Seems reasonable, but let’s pause again. Does everyone (regardless of race, income, where they live and family circumstances) have the same chance to finish high school? Does every high school produce the same results (learning, skills and chances of getting into college)? Does everyone have the same chance of getting a job? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” we must rethink whether individual agency is the only thing that matters.Myers is oblivious to the fact that he is demeaning black people. They are, he seems to be saying, so beaten down that they are unable to make good decisions. For example, today about 72% of all black kids are born out of wedlock. Poor beaten down black folks can’t make good decisions about sex, birth control and marriage, according to Myers.
But in 1955, only 20% of black babies were born out of wedlock. Why could blacks make good decisions in the 1950s, before the civil rights legislation of the 60s, but can’t now? The generation of blacks that had kids in wedlock in the 50s was the generation that marched with Martin Luther King. What has happened in the black community? It hasn’t been the rise of “institutional racism.”
That blacks are, on average, in poorer schools than whites is certainly true. But it is leftists like Myers that are the staunch defenders of poorly performing public school monopolies in central cities, and the opponents of charter schools and vouchers schools.
It is, in other words, the people who whine about “institutional racism” who are defenders of the clearest form of institutional racism that harms black kids: the inner city public school monopoly.
UnemploymentMyers goes on to talk about unemployment, and claims that if the “jobs were there” black people would take them. He points to the fact that the black unemployment rate is consistently higher than the white unemployment rate.
But is this “institutional racism?”
In the first place, because blacks tend to have less human capital than whites (because of poorer education), they are at a disadvantage.
Secondly, because blacks tend to have less human capital, they are more likely to be lured into dependency on government programs, which compete too well with actual employment. (The same thing happens with poorly educated whites, but it is less noticed.)
Here are the data on dependency on means-tested programs, by race.
Here are the data on dependency and family structure. Married couple families are quite unlikely to be dependent on government programs.
One of the many things that politically correct types won’t talk about is the fact that the black/white gap in unemployment was, in an era where “institutional racism” was undeniable, nonexistent. This chart, from the linked article, tells the story:
Hypocrisy on Critical ThinkingBut the most blatant, bizarre thing about Myers and his bureaucrats is that, instead of promoting critical thinking, they have promoted one-sided political correctness.
Critical thinking involves confronting diverse, often conflicting ideas. But the programming coming out of Myers office (and offices under his control) this year has consisted of nothing but leftist indoctrination.
And Myers, uncomfortable with Shapiro challenging his one-sided programming, goes to the Tribune to try to debunk Shapiro.